On the basketball court, Kobe Bryant had no fear. He never backed down from a challenge. Bryant came into the NBA right after high school and went on to have a Hall-of-Fame career with the Los Angeles Lakers. While he was fearless playing basketball, there was always something that always put a little scare into Bryant. Maybe it’s the true reason he was traded from the Charlotte Hornets on draft day.
Kobe Bryant’s early NBA career
After a high-profile high school basketball career at Lower Merion in Pennsylvania, Kobe Bryant was drafted 13th overall by the Charlotte Hornets in the 1996 NBA draft. Two weeks after the draft, Bryant was dealt to the Los Angeles Lakers for center Vlade Divac.
With zero college experience, it took one year of adjusting to the NBA before Bryant’s career exploded. In his rookie season, Bryant played 71 games, averaging 7.6 points per game while playing 15 minutes per contest. He struggled from the floor, making just 41 percent of his shots from the field.
Bryant’s career began to take off in the 1997-98 season when his minutes increased to 26 points per game and he averaged better than 15 points coming off the bench. In his third season in the NBA, Bryant became a full-time starter, playing 37.9 minutes and averaging 19.9 points per game. That 19.9 points-per-game average was the lowest of his career for the next 15 years.
Bryant turned into a Hall-of-Famer
Kobe Bryant went on to become an 18-time NBA All-Star and a five-time NBA champion with the Los Angeles Lakers. He was a two-time scoring champion and finished his career with 33,643 points which sit fourth on the all-time scoring list. Bryant was also known for his tenacious defense as he was named to the NBA’s All-Defensive Team 12 times.
Bryant led the NBA in scoring in back-to-back seasons. He averaged 35.6 points per game during the 2005-06 season. He followed that up by averaging a league-leading 31.6 points in 2006-07. The next season, Bryant was named the MVP of the league when he averaged 28.3 points and 6.3 rebounds per game.
Bryant teamed with Shaquille O’Neal to form the league’s top one-two punch which helped contribute to Bryant’s five NBA titles. During his 20-year career, Bryant averaged 25 points per game. He was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame this year. In January of 2020, Bryant and his daughter Gianna, along with seven others, died in a helicopter crash.
His biggest fear in life
Kobe Bryant drove the lane hard against some of the toughest NBA players without hesitation. He played like there was no tomorrow. Bryant didn’t have any fear when it came to playing basketball.
When Dave McMenamin, a reporter with ESPN, asked Bryant if he had any fears, he came up with something that he was afraid of. “I don’t f— with bees, man,” Bryant said. “Other than that, I’m not afraid of nothing.”
Maybe that explains Bryant’s quick departure from the Charlotte Hornets back in 1996.
All stats courtesy of Basketball Reference.